Archive for March, 2012
I see some of the events going on in the business world today that make me wonder where the leadership is. I believe many so-called “leaders” in big companies are nothing more than managers. What training do they have in leadership or did they just reach their position by using excellent managerial skills? What do these people feel for their employees and for society?
A good example is in the political setting today. I wonder what planet some of these people came from. Some of them use the term leader so loosely it makes me sick to listen to them. I hear too much “my way or the highway” in the political world polarizing the electorate so politicians get nothing productive done. I ask, “How is this leadership?” Leaders collaborate and work well in teams. Do we even have a team working to solve problems in government anymore? Everything I see is a stalemate of polarized views. A leader is not a divider, but a person who unifies an organization to achieve a common goal.
A leader has a vision and uses it to attract followers. A manager simply commands attention by using management tactics to take advantage of others for self-motivated reasons. Often business plans sit on a shelf collecting dust. A leader works his or her plan, but stays nimble in its execution. A leader has a connection with followers by listening and using emotion to win followers over. A manager simply commands people the only way to do something is his or her way.
Managers are many times smart people and know precise skills, but a leader knows how to connect with others and change the way they think. A leader is flexible and wants to know what others think. A manager has a superiority complex because the skills he or she has makes him or her feel superior to others. A leader finds value in finding the right people to learn from instead of relying on his or her own skills.
I see more opportunities for people wanting to become small business entrepreneurs to use leadership. Right now the world needs more leadership and I encourage people with a good idea to exercise their entrepreneurial spirit. A person must have leadership skills to become a successful entrepreneur as a good manager will just not cut it. Casualties are too high for new start-ups so people with an idea and leadership skill have a calling waiting for them as a small business entrepreneur.
Do you have what it takes to start a business? Start by considering your leadership skills. Learn more.
I remember when I started my first business how frustrated I became when everyone wanted to reject my business plan. Everyone wanted to say, “Your plan is not good enough, “You can’t do that,” “Your numbers don’t add up,” or some other lame reason to reject me. I don’t even remember them all. The average person might just say, “I’ve had enough,” I tried,” “I give up,” or “Maybe everyone else is right.” I thought who are these people who do not know the first thing about my business to make these disparaging remarks. Do these people even care?
After finally getting the loan I needed to start my business, these comments didn’t even make a difference to me. I was free and I could put my focus on my passion. Now is the time to prove the naysayers wrong!
Unlike some I am not a quitter. Think about it! Would you rather work with someone who is persistent, diligent, determined, vigilant, and deliberate or would you prefer to work with someone who quits? Do you want someone who helps take a project to reach its final conclusion or someone who simply walks away without giving it the effort it deserves?
I know what I prefer, and it’s not quitting. I know I have it in my DNA to never to give up. I yearn to achieve what I set out to achieve and do not let little setbacks stand in my way. I am energized by learning more about my business so I can serve my customers better. For me the fun is in getting to my goal, not settling into a comfortable position. If you want a comfortable position get a job. What I do is not a job; it’s an eternal fire I need to put out.
If you don’t have the fire, I suggest quitting now. Do you want to learn more?
I read a blog a few days ago that said you do not need experience to be a successful entrepreneur. So what do you need? Do you need a degree from an Ivy League school or a large pot of money from a notable investor?
Let me tell you a story from my personal experience. I once worked for a man who came from humble beginnings. Sam was the man. Sam’s family had a hard time putting food on the table coming over from the old country. Sam had a brother that did not fit in anywhere so the Sam felt a duty to take care of him. Sam did not make it through high school because he was pressed for his family’s survival.
So what did Sam do? Sam went into the screw business. Now your first thought might be, “who did Sam try to screw?” If so, you have the wrong idea! Sam’s business had to do with making screws in the fastener industry. Sam started in a small garage at home and at first started with selling products, but Sam often told me his success came not from selling, but from buying. Before starting his company Sam worked as a buyer for another company.
As Sam’s business grew, he started manufacturing screws and with a few of his friends formed a partnership and eventually a corporation. Sam had an absolute passion for the business and made it his business to learn every facet of the business. Over the years Sam and his partners grew the business in to an extremely successful business in the industry. The company grew out of the garage to a large manufacturing facility with thousands of high-profile customers.
Sam led the company from obscurity to a thriving business and Sam mastered every person’s position in the entire company. I kid you not! Sam was faster than a marathon runner and would see how every employee performed in their job. Sam followed this routine the entire day, each and every day. Sam showed his passion for the business and did not think of it as work.
I did not mention I came to Sam’s company late after his partners had left or retired. My role at the company was vice president of finance. By this time, the company was already a public company. By the way, Sam could do my job even though he did not have a high school diploma. Sam made it a point to know everyone’s job inside and out. Sam drilled me at lunch each and every day to keep me on track. Sam would let me know when I eventually mastered my job.
Sam started thinking about retirement and sold the company to a Harvard MBA. By the way the Harvard MBA’s name was Ned and he was a marathon runner. Ned bought the company with money inherited from his wealthy father. Every company that Ned bought he started to bring in his own people to manage the company and do everything by the book. One-by-one each company Ned took over started to lose money and eventually failed. Ned was a turnaround expert in the wrong direction.
Sam saw the handwriting on the wall and decided it was time to get out and semi-retire, but Sam loved the business too much and went back out on his own. During our final time together, Sam told me to look for another job because Ned wanted to bring in his own people after he left. I learned more from this job than any job I ever had thanks to Sam.
So why did Sam succeed? Sam did not graduate from high school, but admired others like myself who had a good education. Sam did not have a large pot of money to start. Yet, Sam grew out of his garage to a manufacturing facility and eventually became a public company. What do you think it takes to build a successful company? Did Sam have experience, and, if so, what role did it play in his success? Did Ned have experience in the companies he took over?
Do you have some ideas about why Sam could build a successful company? Do you want to know more about what I think it takes to start a successful business. Learn more.
In recent years multinational companies have crowded out competition by small business by exerting their influence through size and money. Globally, small businesses serve many roles the multinational companies fail to serve. For example, entrepreneurs are closer to the consumer and must listen to peoples’ needs.
Multinational firms use supply-side economics and simply raise prices as the need for improved profits arises. These firms believe they control the market because of the lack of competition. Without competition no equilibrium exists to bring prices into line with supply and demand.
Small businesses can compete and satisfy consumers’ needs by exerting the power of global small business networks. Small business have an opportunity in the global marketplace to fill the gaps left by multinationals who look out for their own interests. Small businesses have the nimbleness to respond to what consumers want and need and do not need to wait for multinational companies.
Ide (2009) showed that small businesses account for 99.7% of businesses in the United States and 50.7% of employees in 2004. Similarly, in the same year small businesses in Japan accounted for 99.7% of businesses and 74.2% of employees. In 2003 Ide showed both Germany and the United Kingdom accounted for 99.6% of businesses. The United Kingdom and Germany reported small business yielded 59.2% and 64.8% of employment in those countries, respectively.
Global small businesses by this analysis should have more power to promote their interests. Global supply chains and social networks can improve conditions for small business entrepreneurs by joining forces (Weltzien Hoivik, & Shankar, 2011).
Wu, Park, Chinta, and Cunningham (2010) explained how the practice of “co-optition” works in China by forming supply-chain clusters and collaborate to create new products and fill gaps left in the market by multinational companies. BarNir and Smith (2002) defined interfirm alliances as independent companies cooperating to perform business activities.
Taking this idea a step further and settling common needs for all small businesses engaged in international trade can amass great power for small business. Anyone involved in small business should consider collaborating and developing common interests with other small business not only through interfirm alliances, but through small business social networks.
BarNir, A., & Smith, K. A. (2002). Interfirm alliances in the small business: The role of social networks. Journal of Small Business Management, 40(3), 219-232.
Ide, T. (2009). How to rectify unfair trade practices and to establish appropriate supply chains and better business culture under the global market economy. Pacific Economic Review, 14(5), 612-621. doi: 10.1111/j.1468-0106.2009.00475.x
Weltzien Høivik, H., & Shankar, D. (2011). How can SMEs in a cluster respond to global demands for corporate responsibility? Journal of Business Ethics, 101(2), 175-195. doi: 10.1007/s10551-010-0708-6
Wu, L., Park, D., Chinta, R., & Cunningham, M. (2010). Global entrepreneurship and supply chain management: A Chinese exemplar. Journal of Chinese Entrepreneurship, 2(1), 36-52. doi: 10.1108/17561391011019014